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How to Choose a Family Law Attorney

By: Z Family Law


Selecting a family law attorney is not a decision to take lightly - your family’s future is on the line - but if you’ve never dealt with a legal matter before, you may be wondering how to find a lawyer, and what to look for in your search. It can be intimidating, especially if you are already feeling overwhelmed by everything else going on, and there’s certainly no shortage of law firms and lawyers out there. 

With so much at stake, and because family law matters can be so deeply personal, the relationship you’ll have with your attorney is extremely important, so it’s crucial that you find not just any attorney but one you wholeheartedly trust to advocate for your best interests, and with whom you are comfortable. Read on for some tips on how to do just that.


1. Begin with a Google search and/or ask for recommendations.

Friends, family, and community groups are a great resource for recommendations regarding which attorneys/firms to consider, and who to avoid. If you’re not comfortable telling friends and family about your matter, a basic Google search will bring up plenty of local results. 


2. Start digging. 

Look up recommended firms online and click through their Google profiles and websites. Read the firm’s “About Us” page(s) and attorney bios, and check out their social media to get a sense of what they do, how they operate, and who they are. Look for reviews and testimonials from former clients, and browse their resources, including videos, blogs, and webinars. If they haven’t devoted a lot of attention to their web presence, and to keeping it up to date, it could be an indication that they don’t stay current with developments in the law and/or don’t prioritize connecting with clients.


3. Schedule a consultation. 

The best way to get a sense of who a family lawyer is and what working with their firm would be like, is to have a consultation and meet with them in person or via a videoconferencing platform like Zoom. Keep in mind that while it may be tempting to always go for the “free consultation,” you get what you pay for. Free consultations tend to be brief, and may be more like a sales meeting than an actual evaluation of your circumstances and your legal options. This is an investment in your future, and it will cost you a lot more down the line if you have to switch attorneys because they hooked you with a “free” sales pitch and then left you hanging when it actually mattered. Even if you don’t think you can afford full representation, a paid, in-depth consult with an attorney is worth every penny - you will walk away with meaningful advice and clarity as to your options and possible next steps. 


4. Ask questions and decide what you’re looking for in your representation. 

As you start to meet with firms and attend consultations, make a list of criteria, and come up with some questions to ask each one. Here are some of the criteria we recommend weighing:

  • Do you want a solo practitioner or a multi-attorney firm? A solo practitioner may have a smaller case load, but do they have a backup plan if something happens that prevents them from representing you or devoting the time and attention your case requires? A multi-attorney firm is better prepared to handle the unexpected, and you benefit from a diverse base of knowledge and experience. At Z Family Law, we regularly discuss all our cases, and our lawyers often bounce ideas off each other, consult one another, weigh different arguments, and challenge each other to consider new angles, ensuring your attorney has the best chance at getting you a successful outcome. 
  • Will you be assigned an attorney or a legal team? If you have a good attorney, their hourly fees are more than worth it when it comes to strategizing, and drafting or analyzing legal documents, but do you want to pay hundreds of dollars an hour for them to make copies or schedule meetings with opposing counsel? Hiring a firm that assigns a legal assistant or paralegal to your case ensures your matter moves forward while keeping legal fees down, without compromising the quality of your representation. Here at ZFL, in addition to your legal team, we offer the support of our compassionate client care team, which is available at any time to assist with non-billable matters like connecting you with concierge services to help keep your life moving in the midst of your matter, or answering questions about your bill.
  • Do they have referrals and resources to help you navigate the other changes in your life? While the right attorney is essential, navigating a family law matter is not just about dealing with the legal aspects of your case. Divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and other family law cases have broad-ranging impacts on your life, and you need a diverse range of support to help you handle every aspect - from therapists, and parenting and divorce coaches, to movers, real estate professionals, home organizers, estate planners, accountants, and more. Z Family Law builds relationships with trusted professionals so that we always know the right person for the job, and you aren’t left to fend for yourself.
  • What are their billing policies? Some firms will bill you every two weeks (like Z Family Law), and some send you monthly bills. More frequent billing is more transparent, and allows you to stay on top of your legal expenses while keeping you apprised of exactly what’s happening in your case.


5. “Kiss a lot of frogs.” 

There are a lot of family lawyers out there, and as previously mentioned, it’s not just about finding an attorney, but finding the right one, and that means you shouldn't just go with the first attorney or firm you find. Instead, meet with several, take notes, and compare them before making a decision. 


6. Go with your gut.

The right attorney for you is usually the one that feels best. If a lawyer or firm has a lot of awards and positive reviews, and/or comes very highly recommended, but just doesn’t feel like the best fit for you, that’s okay - trust your instincts, and find one who seems like a better match. You will be sharing very personal information with your attorney, and you must be able to trust that they truly have your best interests at heart every step of the way. 


Red Flags

What you want from an attorney/firm is an individual decision, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer, but keep an eye out for these red flags - they may be a sign that you should turn and run!

  • They guarantee you a result. There are simply no guarantees in family law. An attorney who tells you they can promise you’ll get full custody of your kids, or that they can make your ex pay you a certain amount of alimony every month is not being honest with you.
  • They quote you an exact cost. Unless they offer flat-rate fee structures, there’s no way to know how much your family law case is going to cost because there are so many unknowns, and you/they can only control part of the equation. If they do offer flat-fee representation, consider that they may not give your matter their all beyond a certain point if your case no longer seems profitable to them.
  • They try to dominate the conversation and dictate a strategy without asking about your goals. If you tell someone you’d rather resolve your case through mediation, but they insist it’s better to “make your ex pay in court,” cross them off your list. This is your life - you get to decide how you want to do things.
  • They talk down to you. You should walk out of a consultation or a meeting with your attorney feeling two feet taller, not two feet tall. If they talked down to you, had a condescending tone, or otherwise made you feel bad, walk away and find an attorney who will inform, empower, and support you instead.
  • They handle all different kinds of cases. In the legal field, this is called a “door lawyer”  because they will take any case that comes through their door. Family law is complex, and you really need an attorney who focuses solely on your type of matter, understands all the ins and outs of family cases, and keeps up with changes and developments in the law that could affect your matter.
  • There are files all over their office. This may seem like a silly one, but if there are stacks of client files all over their desk, or on the floor, with paper spilling out everywhere, remember that if you hired them, your file would be one of them!



At Z Family Law, we truly believe that everyone deserves high quality representation by an attorney and a firm that feels like a perfect match, whether that means hiring us, or finding a better fit elsewhere. Contact us today to find out if we're the firm for you by calling (301) 388-5528 or emailing us at

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